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Thread: 6/9 - NBA Insider - Worth Watching

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    Default 6/9 - NBA Insider - Worth Watching

    Wednesday, June 9, 2004
    Pre-draft camp lacks star power

    By Chad Ford
    ESPN Insider

    # Chad Ford's mock draft: Standard version | Slideshow version

    CHICAGO -- After spending Monday in fantasy camp at Hoops Gym, it was time to get back to reality at the NBA Chicago pre-draft camp.

    Once again, the roster is proving to be a disappointment. The biggest names in the camp are Duke's Chris Duhon and Xavier's Romain Sato. The only guys with a realistic shot at being picked in the first round -- Providence's Ryan Gomes, Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts and St. Joseph's Delonte West -- will likely pull out and return to school. It's highly unlikely that any of these guys will get promises given the volatility of the draft and they'd be crazy to take the risk right now.

    After watching an international dream camp in Treviso, Italy last week, the best international name the Chicago camp could muster was Serbian combo guard Ivan Koljevic.

    The camp is so diluted that Western Carolina's Kevin Martin and JUCO star Donta Smith decided that the camp wasn't worth their while and a staggering 23 players from the Portsmouth Invitational are making repeat appearances here.

    OK, enough with the complaining. There are some interesting players here in Chicago. Every year someone comes out of the woodwork and plants himself firmly in the first round. Last year it was Troy Bell and Dahntay Jones who played their way in. Who has a shot at doing it this year?

    Insider talked to some GMs in the building on Tuesday evening, and these are the 11 guys they'll be watching closely.

    Romain Sato, SG, Xavier
    Sato had a solid college career and has several things going for him that could turn him into a good NBA rotation player. He's strong, athletic has very long arms and has a defensive intensity about him that has teams interested. He's been working out very well. If he can dominate here, Sato could go in the late first round to a team looking for a player who can step in right away.

    Tony Allen, SG, Oklahoma
    Allen is another terrific defensive specialist with long arms, great athleticism and the ability to score when his team needs him. Before all the underclassmen began flooding the draft, scouts believed he had a shot at the late first round. With a great performance here, he could get back there again.

    Trevor Ariza, SF, UCLA
    Ariza has zero buzz right now. He needs to be here. His specialty is perimeter defense, but he's going to have to show a special skill here to get back into the first round. He has the ability to play point forward at the next level and will need to show it here.

    Rickey Paulding, SG, Missouri
    At on time, Paulding was considered a candidate for the lottery, but a lackluster senior season killed his buzz. His athleticism is always on display, but if he can start hitting 3s with consistency, Paulding could help himself.

    Chris Duhon, PG, Duke
    Bernie Bickerstaff claims that Duhon could be a nice NBA journeyman with a lot of work. Oh, how the mighty fall. Duhon, like Paulding, was once thought of as a lottery prospect. Was the Duke system to blame for his sorrowful junior and senior efforts or was Duhon just exposed? Scouts are waiting to see how he fares in a more wide-open system.

    Antonio Burks, PG, Memphis
    Like Sato, Burks is getting a lot of buzz these days after a string of impressive workouts. He's lightening quick with the ball, has a good NBA body and knows how to score. He was just so-so in Portsmouth. Can he turn it on here?

    Arthur Johnson, PF, Missouri
    One thing will determine Johnson's stock at the camp. One is official measurements. Is he really 6-foot-9 as he claims or is he closer to 6-foot-7 as scouts claim? Teams like his skills and he should do well here, but the size thing will kill him.

    Bryant Matthews, SF, Virginia Tech
    Matthews turned a lot of heads at Portsmouth with his athletic play. He was a big-time scorer and rebounder at Virginia Tech. If he can show some of that against the better talent here, he could secure a spot in the second round.

    James Lloreda, PF, LSU
    Had a solid year at LSU before injuries ended his season early. This is the first look many NBA teams have had of him and they'll be playing close attention. If Lloreda measures a legit 6-foot-9 and plays with his trademark physicality, he could help himself.

    Herve Lamizana, F, Rutgers
    Lamizana is a very athletic player who has caught the eyes of scouts for the past two years. He's probably a second-round pick for sure, but a solid performance here could really help his stock. One of the few guys here who still has a lot of upside.

    Tim Pickett, SG, Florida
    Pickett has been a workout wonder, a kid who's buzz has steadily risen throughout the draft process. Shooting is his forte, but he's another one who will rise and fall based on what he measures. He claims he's 6-foot-4, on the small end for a two guard. If he's below that . . . forget about it.

    Chicago sleepers

    Ronald Murray has become the patron saint of guys from small schools here in Chicago. His breakout performance for the Sonics this season guarantees that these guys will get a close look by scouts this week.

    Chris Garnett, C, Indiana Southwest
    Glad to see that the NBA relented and let Garnett in. He wasn't invited to Portsmouth, angering some scouts who wanted to see him against better competition. He was pretty dominant in the NAIA. He's got good size and good athleticism for a big man. Lots of questions about his head.

    Ricky Minard, G, Morehead State
    Great athleticism. Does a little bit of everything. His 5.1 apg have some scouts wondering if he could be the second coming of Murray.

    Rich Melzer, SF, Wisconsin River Falls
    Melzer didn't do much at Portsmouth, but he's been playing to good reviews at individual workouts. Melzer can get it done inside and outside. A few scouts are very high on him.

    Jackie Butler, PF, Coastal Christian Academy, VA
    Butler, a former McDonald's All-American, wanted to declare for the draft straight out of high school. When no one bit, he went off to prep school and put up monster numbers (29 ppg, 17 rpg) for his team. He's got good size, athleticism and a body for the four. He could do wonders for his stock with a dominating performance here.

    Beno Udrih, PG, Slovenia
    Udrih is a draft-eligible Euro with good size for the point guard position. He has the ability to score, is a good shooter, and has some big time experience around Europe. Several teams drafting in the late first round are pretty high on him.

    Sergei Lishouk, PF, Ukraine
    Several international scouts are pretty high on him. He plays in the Ukraine, making him fairly difficult to scout. Is averaging good numbers over there. Despite his size, 6-11, he likes to shoot it from the perimeter.

    Marko Tomas, SG, Croatia
    Tomas had a little bit of a buzz going at the Reebok Eurocamp before getting injured. He puts up pretty good numbers in Croatia and knows how to get to the basket. His shooting has also improved. Most likely he'll pull out of the draft, but this could be a good showcase for him down the road.

    Missing in action

    Who isn't in Chicago is just as interesting as who is. Some decided to skip the camp because they're confident in their draft stock. Others weren't invited at all. Here's a look at six guys who should be here, but aren't.

    Roko Leni Ukic, PG, Croatia
    Ukic would be one of the top two or three point guards in this camp, but he never received an invite. What gives? A source on the selection committee for the NBA claims that they thought Ukic had the talent to be here, but left him off the squad because they believed he probably would pull out of the draft. Huh? Ukic was one of the few guys who could've propelled his way into the first round with a strong performance here. Had he done it, he would've stayed in the draft. The NBA screwed this one up big time.

    Roko-Leni Ukic

    Kevin Martin, SG, Western Carolina
    Martin received an invite, but pulled out of the camp at the last second, stunning just about everyone here. What gives? He's had solid workouts and decided he'd be better off doing a public workout for teams on Wednesday. Martin might be shooting in an empty gym. He could've put up big numbers here.

    Dorrell Wright, SG, South Kent Prep
    Wright too received an invite, but pulled out on Monday. Wright has played well in workouts the past few weeks. Did a team get nervous and make him a promise? Probably not. But from what I've picked up here, he probably got enough praise to convince him that he didn't need to play here. Wright, too, could've been showcased here. I think his stock is higher than Martin's, but it would've been nice to see what he could do against more talented players.

    Lionel Chalmers, PG, Xavier
    Chalmers amazingly didn't get an invite to Portsmouth or Chicago despite being one of the best players in the NCAA Tournament this year. The rationale was that NBA teams had already scouted him enough. You could say the same thing about 15 other, less talented college seniors in the camp. This is a real head scratcher. Chalmers may not have a shot at the first round, but neither do most of the guys here.

    Cleiton Sebastiao, C, Brazil
    The big guy from Brazil should be here. I don't know whether he received an invite (last time we checked with his agent he hadn't) or not. But if he didn't, it's a shame. Here's a guy who teams really need to see play 5-on-5 basketball. In workouts he can look impressive, but no one knows if he can play basketball. Now it looks like they won't find out.

    Darius Rice, SF, Miami
    Rice didn't receive an invite to Chicago, putting the final nail in his NBA coffin. He was pretty bad in Portsmouth, but on talent and potential, he's way ahead of some of the players here. He deserved a second chance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 6/9 - NBA Insider - Worth Watching

    Wednesday, June 9, 2004
    Commitment anxiety muddles picture

    By Chad Ford
    ESPN Insider

    # Chad Ford's mock draft: Standard version | Slideshow version

    CHICAGO -- The only thing NBA scouts and GMs seem to agree on in this draft is that it's turning out to be the craziest and most difficult to predict draft they've ever encountered.

    "I think we're all having a tough time trying to get a grasp of what's going on," Celtics VP Danny Ainge told Insider. "I've literally got 50 different contingency plans up in my hotel room that I've been working on. With all of the trades and the parity in this draft, it's maddening trying to get a read on how this draft is going to unfold."

    Ainge's sentiment is echoed across the board here. GMs, scouts, even agents say they're growing increasingly nervous as the draft approaches.

    It's especially troublesome for agents trying to get first-round promises for their clients. Despite a flurry of rumored promises to prospects ranging from Kirk Snyder to Sebastian Telfair, teams are furiously denying they've made deals.

    # "Why would you make a promise this early?" Suns GM Bryan Colangelo, the patron saint of promises, said. "Until you figure out what the trade value of your pick is, go through the workouts and decide who is and who isn't going to be there, it doesn't make a lot of sense."

    Amare Stoudemire and Zarko Carbarkapa -- the last two guys the Suns made promises to -- agree.

    Ainge, who quickly picked up a rep as a promise-maker after he sealed up Marcus Banks early in the process last year, laughs at reports he's already locked up half of this year's high school class.

    "I read something the other day that said that no one would make a promise this early in the draft unless they were Danny Ainge," Ainge said. "It's pretty easy to get a rep."

    For the record, both Colangelo and Ainge deny they've made promises to anyone. That also holds true for Blazers GM John Nash (the Blazers also have a rep for making early promises). The Celtics and Suns still are working out a number of top prospects, lending credence to their claims. Of course, these are the same guys who last year claimed they hadn't made any deals, so take it with a grain of salt.

    In fact, the rumor in Chicago last night was that Dorell Wright skipped the Chicago pre-draft camp because the Celtics had guaranteed him. Wright did have a second workout in Boston this week and Ainge was raving about him so . . .

    Still, there might be some truth to what they're saying. Agents are finding it tough to secure the promises they're looking for right now. In the past, locking up a commitment from a team to draft a 7-foot international big man like Peja Samardziski would be a piece of cake. This year it hasn't been so easy.

    "Making a promise can be a double-edged sword," Ainge said. "You may get the guy that you want, but what if someone comes along a week later that you want more? That's the issue for us this year."

    # Speaking of promises, Duke law professor Paul Haagen claims the Wizards told him they'd select Luol Deng with the No. 5 pick if he was still on the board, according to a report in the Raleigh News and Observer. Haagen helped Deng, and other elite Duke athletes, gather information about their draft stock.

    # Yet another team  the Celtics -- is claiming Kirk Snyder's agent recently canceled a workout. That's the Jazz, Celtics and Nuggets in the last week. Either Snyder has a lottery promise, or his agent is delusional.

    Trade talk

    # Just about everyone assumes the Clippers and Hawks will make some sort of deal to swap the No. 2 pick for the Hawks' No. 6 and No. 16 picks. The Clippers don't need Dwight Howard, and the Hawks need him desperately.

    However, there may be a major snag in that deal. Orlando is talking to a lot of teams right now, and several of them would like to trade up to the top spot for Howard, not Emeka Okafor. That's a doomsday scenario for the Hawks and appears to be cooling their willingness to give up both of their picks to the Clippers this early.

    The Clippers have been working out the likes of Devin Harris, Shaun Livingston and Ben Gordon of late, giving credence to the idea they'll trade down and take a point guard. But until everyone is sure what Orlando is going to do, finalizing a trade might be tough.

    # Bulls GM John Paxson may have several good options in the draft at No. 3 (Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng and Josh Childress come to mind) but don't be surprised if the Bulls end up trading the pick for a real veteran.

    # The rumor du jour has the Pacers offering Al Harrington and their first-round pick to the Bulls for the No. 3 pick and Scottie Pippen. The Pacers are anxious to upgrade their backcourt and like several players who should be available, including Livingston, Harris and Iguodala.

    While no one is in the business of confirming or denying these types of things, Pacers head man Donnie Walsh had an interesting reaction to the rumor.

    "I think we'd at least have to listen to Chicago if they wanted to propose something like that," Walsh told Insider.

    While the Pacers are in no hurry to give Harrington away, trading him for some backcourt help makes some sense. Jonathan Bender can step in and provide a lot of the things Harrington did. At some point Bender is just going to have to get more minutes if he's ever going to develop. Second, adding a player with star potential like Livingston, Harris or Iguodala could really provide a missing spark for the Pacers.

    For the Bulls, adding Harrington would clear the way to trade Tyson Chandler for another veteran who can contribute right away. It's not an easy decision for either team -- the Bulls really could use a player like Iguodala or Deng, and the Pacers might not be able to afford to add another rookie -- but it also make a ton of sense.

    If the teams do pull the trigger, my money's on Livingston to be the Pacers pick. Walsh has shown plenty of patience in the past, and Livingston has the potential to be the best player in the draft.

    Workout rumblings

    # The Clippers worked out Shaun Livingston and Devin Harris separately at Hoops the Gym on Tuesday. Harris shot the ball extremely well in the workout, while Livingston was just so-so on his shooting.

    # What's interesting is either player will de drafted because of his shooting (though it's a nice bonus). Livingston and Harris are the closest things in the draft to true point guard. One of the drawbacks of individual workouts is they don't measure things like court vision, passing ability, leadership, etc. In effect, Livingston and Harris spend most of the hour-plus workout taking jump shots.

    The Clippers ran some drills that tried to replicate passing situations, but they don't come anywhere close to simulating what either kid could do in a game. It's not L.A.'s fault -- workouts simply can't cover everything they need to.

    With that said, if the Clippers do trade down in the draft, look for them to choose either Harris or Ben Gordon over Livingston. Coach Mike Dunleavy is looking for an experienced point guard who can shoot the ball. He'd probably prefer and NBA veteran, but if he can't get one, Harris and Gordon both would fit the bill.

    # Livingston has another private workout Wednesday with the Bobcats and then a workout for several teams, run by Tim Grover, later in the week. Chances are he'll make his decision about whether to stay in the draft or go to Duke on Saturday.

    # The big workout of the afternoon took place at the Lakeshore Athletic Club, where junior college star Donta Smith auditioned before 60 or so NBA scouts and GMs. Smith has garnered quite a buzz over the past few weeks after a few strong workouts.

    Smith has a great body, NBA athleticism and a pretty well-rounded game. Unfortunately he was surrounded in the workout by guys who have zero shot of getting drafted, making it very difficult to gauge exactly how good he is.

    He dominated the guys he played against, showing quickness, aggressiveness on defense and a decent jumper, but it was pretty tough to contextualize what we saw.

    Still, you can understand why teams are interested. Several teams -- including the Kings, Suns, Celtics and Hawks -- have shown enough interest to make some think Smith could slip into the late first round.

    "We like him," said Jerry Reynolds, the Kings director of player personnel. "We certainly feel he is a draftable player. I think he certainly should be in the top 35-40 players drafted, in my opinion."

    Some scouts believe the 6-foot-7 Smith could be a point-forward in the league.

    # SFX is holding a big workout today at Hoops the Gym for several of their top international players, including Ha Seung Jin, Sasha Vujacic and Roko Leni Ukic.

    In and out
    # Martynas Andriuskevicius likely will pull out of the draft, according to his agent. Herb Rudoy told Insider it's pretty unlikely he'll get the top-five promise he's looking for. Only one team, the Suns at No. 7, have interest in drafting Andriuskevicus and allowing him to remain overseas another year. However, the Suns promised him nothing, and Rudoy won't leave Andriuskevicius in the draft without a promise. If he's still in the draft after the deadline, you pretty much know where you can pencil him in.

    Andriuskevicius, by the way, was awesome on the last day of the Reebok Eurocamp. After several marginal performances there, he got angry and aggressive and scored a camp high 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds -- finally showing all the things scouts love about him.

    # Brazilian Tiago Splitter also is on the fence at the moment. He's in Chicago and will be working out at Hoops the Gym on Friday. Rudoy, his agent, is looking for a promise in the lottery.

    # One international kid to keep an eye on is Marcin Gortat, a 7-foot, 20-year-old from Poland. In the last two days of the Eurocamp, Gortat began dominating the competition with a potent combination of toughness and surprising athleticsm for a guy his size.

    Coming into the camp, scouts weren't that high on him. But based on what they saw those last two days, many of them claim his rapid improvement over the last year makes him a legit NBA prospect.

    There's a good chance Gortat, who plays for Rhein Energie Cologne in Germany, might pull out of the draft and resubmit next year, but after some of the buzz I heard from Treviso over the weekend, I wouldn't be shocked if he stayed in this year. If he does, he should be a lock for the first round.

  3. #3
    Member Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: 6/9 - NBA Insider - Worth Watching

    Here are the profiles of the 3 players we presumably might pick with the #3 pick (should we get it):

    What confuses me is the first two. Why would we draft a PG? Especially the Harris, who's a 6'3" PG?

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    Default Re: 6/9 - NBA Insider - Worth Watching

    Presumably any of the top picks can help right away. Maybe.

    If we don't trade up, I still like Sato. He sounds like he could help quickly.

  5. #5
    year of the black rainbow obnoxiousmodesty's Avatar
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    Default Re: 6/9 - NBA Insider - Worth Watching

    I'm very leery of high schoolers. I don't want the Pacers to have to wait for one player to mature before they can become a championship team.
    Take me out to the black, tell 'em I ain't coming back. Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me.

  6. #6
    Formerly PacerFanInAZ Cactus Jax's Avatar
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    Default Re: 6/9 - NBA Insider - Worth Watching

    Watching Arizona games, I'm not sure if I want Iguodala on the Pacers. He's one of the strangest and uniquely skilled players around, however, although besides being a terrific athlete he doesn't do anything else real well, or really bad either.

    I was thinking, how about this 4 team trade, it's not exact.

    Pacers trade: Al Harrington, Fred Jones or Jonathan Bender, 29th pick
    Pacers get: Scottie Pippen, #6 pick, Jason Terry

    Bulls trade: #3 pick, Scottie Pippen, Jerome Williams
    Bulls Get: Al Harrington, #29 pick

    Magic Trade: #1 Pick
    Magic Get: #3 Pick, #16 pick, Jerome Williams

    Hawks trade: #6 Pick, #16 Pick, Jason Terry
    Hawks Get: #1 Pick, Jonathan Bender or Fred Jones

    The difficulty of this trade would prevent it from happening, and I'm sure there are players that need to be added for salary reasons, but give me a general opinion on it.
    "It's just unfortunate that we've been penalized so much this year and nothing has happened to the Pistons, the Palace or the city of Detroit," he said. "It's almost like it's always our fault. The league knows it. They should be ashamed of themselves to let the security be as lax as it is around here."

    ----------------- Reggie Miller

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